Super Mario 3D Land

Reviewed by Kyle Bell, Posted on 2011-11-16


Developer: Nintendo Publisher: Nintendo
Release Date: November 13, 2011 Available On: 3DS

Video game icons come and go. Pac-Man, Mega Man, Lara Croft and Master Chief have all had their time in the sun, but eventually faded. Mario has lasted the test of time. The franchise entered its twenty-fifth year in 2010 and shows no signs of slowing down. Super Mario 3D Land is a salute to the classic franchise in a way that will make gamers of all ages smile.

Super Mario 3D Land does a masterful job melding classic and modern Mario games. The best parts of the classic games with their 2D side-scrolling are re-created in Super Mario 3D Land in levels that emphasize side-scrolling, but also have a three-dimensional element to it that allows the player to move around in a limited area of a given room. Shigeru Miyamoto was spot-on with his characterization that Super Mario 3D Land was a “3D Mario that plays as a 2D Mario game.”

While there are also larger levels with free-roaming, the game generally limits the size of its levels to something that can be easily beaten in less than five minutes. This is a good thing since the game is on a handheld system meant to be consumed in short bites between levels. You could easily beat several of the levels on a bus to school or the train to work. The simple yet compelling gameplay style is a hallmark of the Mario franchise.

Where Super Mario 3D Land really shines, though, is in its creative variety of level design. You will recognize most of these levels with places like Boo’s mansion and Bowser’s flying fortress making an appearance, but each of them have been redone to complement the system’s strengths. Speaking of which, Bowser’s fortress caps off each of the game’s worlds with a boss fight. Most of these are easy – as are most of the normal levels – but things progressively get more challenging as you move on. Once you pass World 8 you reach the Special Worlds, which are basically a series of challenging levels.

Other series hallmarks have made a return that haven’t been seen in quite some time. Just like the classic NES games, each level has a time limit. The goal of the level is to reach the flag pole at the end. The Super Leaf power-up makes a triumphant return, giving Mario a raccoon-like tail that allows him to fly short distances and spin attack. The health system is also similar to the classics in that if you take a hit, you will lose the power-up. Another hit will make you small and a third will kill you. Falling off of the level is an instant death.

There are plenty of elements from the modern Mario games that have been retained, which is certainly a good thing considering the positive progress that the Galaxy franchise has made. Attacks such as the butt pound and helpful recovery moves such as wall jumping have been included. Of course the open and airy levels from the 3D Mario games make appearances as well, although as previously noted, in a more limited scope appropriate for portable consumption.

In one of the few examples to date of how the 3D is maximized in a Nintendo 3DS title, Super Mario 3D Land has levels that appear flat when the 3D is turned off, but pop to life when the 3D is turned on, giving people that play with the 3D on a slight advantage in certain circumstances, usually hidden rooms where it wouldn’t too badly penalize people that play in 2D. For the convenience of those that prefer playing in 2D, the developers chose to display a 3D icon on the screen when it is really necessary.

Nintendo has managed a cool mixture of classics like Super Mario Bros. 3 and the more recent Super Mario Galaxy series. Super Mario 3D Land gives a humble nod to the originals while moving the franchise forward into the 21st century. Nintendo 3DS owners can relish in all of Mario’s past and present glory. Not only are the levels creatively designed as one would expect from a Mario game, they are incredibly fun to play and perfectly fit for a handheld experience. Super Mario 3D Land is the best game released on the system to date, giving gamers a strong justification for their purchase.

Graphics: 10
Sound: 9
Gameplay: 9.5
Creativity: 10
Replay Value/Game Length: 8.5
Final: 9.5 out of 10
Written by Kyle Bell Write a User Review

Reviewed by Kyle Bell